There is a wealth of summer food to look forward to – from juicy berries and juicy melon – to sun-ripened tomatoes and sweet corn. There is an abundance of delicious treasures by the roadside, the farmers markets and your local grocery store. And the great thing is that many of these plant foods provide more than inspiration for your next Instagram post – they offer serious functional nutrition.
4 foods that increase natural sun protection
Turning on SPF before going out is an important part of your daily summer routine. And adding these foods with natural sun protection is smart to maximize your skin safety.
You love a cold melon wedge after a day of sun and fun, and this colorful fruit loves you right back. Watermelon gets its intense pink color from lycopene, an antioxidant that helps absorb both UVA, the type that leads to skin cancer, and UVB radiation associated with sunburn. For the best natural protection, eat watermelon daily. With so many ways to enjoy it, it’s not too hard, is it?
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
2. Ice cream and coffee:
The ice cold glass of green or black tea is just the thing you need to give you those blistering days. And ECGC, a potent flavanol found in all types of tea, helps reduce damage from UVA light and also helps slow down the loss of collagen, the protein that gives the skin a full and youthful appearance. While human studies need to be done to support the positive studies in animals, you can sip an extra glass of unsweetened tea every day to boost your defenses from the sun.
Similarly, drinking 4 cups of coffee daily has been associated with a reduced risk of developing malignant melanoma, a deadly type of skin cancer. Just another reason to start the day with your favorite cold brew.
Your crispy, protein-filled afternoon snack might do more for you than you think. Almonds have recently been shown to help support the skin’s defenses against UVB light – the type that causes sunburn. A study from the University of California at Los Angeles focused on Asian women between the ages of 19 and 45. One group received 1.55 ounces of almonds daily (worth 246 calories) for 12 weeks, while the other group was fed 1.8 ounces of pretzels (200 calories worth). After 12 weeks, the group consuming almonds was able to increase their time in the sun before blushing, the first sign that the skin is being photo-damaged. Sounds like another good reason to top your morning bowl with almond butter.
Sweet and refreshing grapes are associated with a number of health benefits. Grapes in all colors – green, red and black – are a natural source of beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols. Research suggests that grapes can help promote healthy skin, even when exposed to UV light. In a recent study participant who ingested lyophilized whole grape powder, equivalent to 2 1/4 cups of grapes, showed increased resistance to sunburn every day for two weeks and a reduction in markers for UV damage at the mobile level. Just another reason to add grapes to your cart!
4 foods that hydrate
Adequate hydration is essential to staying healthy in the summer. When you are dehydrated, your heart has to work overtime to cool your body. You know you need to drink more water in the heat, but you struggle to get a glass more in. That’s fine, because you can drink your water too! The food below has almost as much water as a glass of water, water. Adding more servings of these foods to your day will help you stay hydrated. And being hydrated not only helps you feel good, it also works wonders for your skin.
At 96% water, the king of cool occupies the top spot for hydration. And luckily, you can use this veggie in everything from salads to tacos to cocktails.
2. Iceberg lettuce:
When it is wrong because it is not full of fiber or vitamins, like kale, the iceberg packs a moisturizing blow at 96% water. We love it served as a wedge and sprinkled with a creamy dressing or using it for crunchy and low-carb wraps. Either way, we would love to see the iceberg come back as a beauty food!
While it may not seem watery when you cut it up, zukes are a refreshing 95% water. That’s why they work so well in baked recipes and add moisture to buns and bread. But do not forget that they also make amazing salty recipes.
Greetings from Annabel Langbein
One of the most anticipated summer foods is the tomato. And at 94% water, it should definitely be a part of your delicious hydration plan. We love them in sandwiches, of course, and also in gazpacho and this amazing BLT pie.
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
4 foods that beat the summer flare
Whether you overdo it on salty foods during your vacation or had an extra margarita (with a salty edge, of course) over the weekend, you may feel bloated. Flatulence can be caused by the water in your body consuming too much sodium. It can also be due to constipation, which often happens when we are dehydrated or traveling. Either way, these bloated foods can help you feel better – and slimmer – in a matter of hours.
This mustard-flavored green fights swelling with its diuretic powers. As part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, it also boasts cancer-fighting benefits, and it is very low in calories with only 4 per. Cup. Pair it with juicy watermelon and peaches in this delicious summer salad.
Ditte Isager / It’s All Easy by Gwyneth Paltrow
While technically a spring veggie, you can still find plenty of these stalks in the store. A well-known flare-up fighter, these high-fiber stalks have even been touted as a way to prevent hangovers. Asparagus is delicious as a side dish and also goes well with eggs, as in these Mini Asparagus and Cheddar Frittatas.
This crudité staple caused a stir a few years ago when everyone started squeezing it into a detox drink. While you can overdo it on the juicy version (it can lead to diarrhea), it is smart to fight bloating by eating this natural diuretic or adding it to a smoothie.
Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott / Nothing Fancy
Tropical and sweet, pineapple in a juicy addition to many summer recipes. And it also helps in helping your body get rid of excess fluid. Keep the dinner light and flavorful with grilled garlic-lemon prawns with pineapple.
Put the basket or shopping basket up and fill up for your healthiest – and most delicious – summer ever!